February 17, 2015

Blue Mitchell - Blue's Moods (1960)

Blue's Moods is one of fewer the trumpet-led albums I do enjoy. It's a rare occasion of a trumpet quartet. Almost always there's a saxophone to support the less able instrument in the melodies, but not here, and it still manages to be a pretty great album. Part of this is that the rhythm section is killer. Wynton Kelly has an exceptional performance on this date, his solos are consistent and his chords are fresh and even somewhat funky. Sam Jones and Roy Brooks keep the album bopping quick, but don't overwhelm the undermanned frontline like how Art Blakey would.

The other reason the trumpet quartet works out is because of how balanced of a player Blue Mitchell is. He maintains the softness of someone like Kenny Dorham, articulation of Lee Morgan, and bluesy feel of Donald Byrd. He covers much ground with the few notes he has and does an excellent job keeping the listener pulled into the atmosphere.

Even though the musicianship is excellent and the atmosphere is enjoyable, none of this really sticks to me. Without a good saxophone backup, this can tend to get old and doesn't flesh out as much as it should. So I'll end up staying with amphibious Empyrean Isles as the premier trumpet quartet album. But there's no reason you shouldn't listen to this more than solid hard bop album.


Blue's Moods